SADD hosts student speakers


An estimated 3 million teenagers, or 12.5 percent of the teenage population in the United States suffered from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in 2015, an increase from a  2005 study that found  8.7 percent of teenagers experienced MDEs. An MDE is defined as a period of time of two weeks or longer with symptoms of low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and problems with sleep, energy and concentration.

For many, opening up about anxiety and depression can be hard, so Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) held a student speaker event to address the issue on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of stigma surrounding it [depression], and something that we’re trying to work on is that, if you talk about something enough, it’ll lose its stigma,” co-president Maddy Sullivan (11) said. “What we’re afraid of is what makes people feel shame and be scared to tell the people around them about their feelings [which] can be really dangerous.”

The event featured two student speakers, Michelle Bui (12) and an alumni, Lyric Quinto (’17), who spoke about their experiences with anxiety and depression, and how they coped with it.

“It all started in sixth grade because of one event that occurred,” Bui said. “From then on everything kept on getting worse, and then high school hit and classes were hard. I put myself in the wrong classes and that made everything worse as well.”

She began writing in a diary, pouring out  her feelings on the pages because she didn’t know who else she could tell her thoughts to. But over time, she found ways to destress herself, like starting her own YouTube channel.

“I realized that I was finding something else that was keeping me calm,” Bui said. “Yesterday, I opened [my diary] up and I only had one small passage on this page, Oct. 20, 2016. It says ‘YouTube makes me so happy. I have no need to write in this anymore’.”

She admits that she still deals with anxiety and depression at times, but said she believes that by finding ways to feel happy, others dealing with the same issue can also overcome it.

Quinto spoke about her passion for wrestling and how it helped her get through high school. It caused her a lot of pain because she had to cut more than 10 pounds of weight to reach her desired weight class of under 106 pounds to compete. Going for long periods of time without food, she also wanted to lose weight to appear more beautiful and have a thinner stomach, but her mindset changed later in high school.

“I would drop down and keep dropping,” she said. “It wasn’t until junior year that I figured out that I wanted to be in that weight class not because I wanted to be smaller, [but] because I knew that’s where I needed to be to be successful [at wrestling]. I kind of channeled my mindset as to not being what society wanted me to be, but for me to be successful,  and what I was trying to do.”

With the support of her father, who cut weight alongside her, Quinto was able to push through.

However, what made her wrestling career especially hard was the unhealthy relationship she had with another wrestler which began her freshman year. Despite how unhealthy this relationship was, Quinto said that she was too scared to quit wrestling to escape from it.

The relationship was mentally, emotionally, and verbally unhealthy to her. She needed to get all her anger out, so she released it all during practice.

“Having that out de-stressed me, and made me forget about losing weight for a little bit, because I just kept going and going,” Quinto said. “I was just relentless in what I did because I had so much anger that I needed to get out, and I did, because I had wrestling.

By focusing on her passion for the sport, she was able to forget about her weight loss and release the stress her social life brought to her.

After both speakers finished, the room was open to discussion about the different ways to properly deal with anxiety and depression.

“Your teachers are always there for you, and your teachers have been teaching for several years by now, so they do understand that students have down times, and I think that some advice that I would give would be to talk to your teachers, talk to your friends, try and look for connections, and you are not alone,” co-president Leyna Nguyen (12) said.

Treasurer Daniel Kang (12) said others can help people suffering anxiety and depression. He said that depression is misunderstood, and shouldn’t be trivialized as it often is in society.

“We should really understand that depression is medical,” Kang said. “You need to step back and approach the issue from a different lens, rather than you distancing yourself from the problem. As much as we would like to give advice directly related to that, the best thing that I think you could do is direct them to an authority, whether that be a teacher, a counselor.”

With the conclusion of their first event this year, SADD has plans for the future to hold more events to reach a broader audience and help those potentially suffering an MDE.